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Ed Sheeran

Mana motuhake for iwi to pursue

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The country’s leading Maori jurist says mana motuhake or self determination needs to be tackled on a tribal level.

Justice Joe Williams has been promoted to the Court of Appeal after a decade on the High Court bench.

The 56-year-old’s career has coincided with the process of resolving historical claims.

His early work as a lawyer including acting for claimants including Muriwhenua and for the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission in its long-running actions over how the settlement should be allocated.

His potential was recognised when he was appointed the youngest ever chief judge of the Maori Land Court in 1999 and chair of the Waitangi Tribunal the following year.

Justice Williams says the settlement process in New Zealand has been much quicker than in Australia or Canada, which are dealing with similar legacies of colonialism.

Whether it will lead to mana motuhake remains to be seen.

“I think the tribal runanga are still working out how to build that (mana motuhake) and it’s a matter of attitude as much as it a matter of real power on the ground and iwi are still working out their attitude to that on the ground and I think we are still a couple of generations away from resolving what the end product will look like,” Justice Williams told Radio Waatea.

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